First look: Modern Times Cafe
As we reported earlier this month, Modern Times Cafe, a new addition to south Minneapolis's food and coffee options, opened with plans to offer an affordable menu friendly to vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike. Does the restaurant deliver? The Hot Dish stopped in recently to check it out.
Courtesy of Modern Times Facebook
We visited the restaurant on a Sunday just before noon, and the place was hopping; open now for about two weeks, it seems word is already out to the neighborhood, and we had to wait about 20 minutes for a spot: not bad for a weekend brunch, plus the sun was shining, the windows let in plenty of light, and cheery families with well-behaved children made for a nice wait. (Note, there was no waiting once the breakfast rush slowed.)
Menu options to suit a variety of tastes and food preferences are abundant, whether you like your protein in the form of wheat gluten (Fear of Seitan tofu scramble, $7), ovo-lacto (Chakra Khan egg and cheese scramble, $7.50), or straight-up, all-meat bacon (Deadwood scramble, $7.50), or if your kid's a picky eater who seems to eschew protein altogether (Mickey Mouse pancake, $3). In addition, the menu offers a variety of bagels, pancakes, oatmeal, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, basic breakfast combos, and plenty of kids' menu selections. The cafe also offers a full caffeinated drink menu, whether you're looking for espresso, teas, or sodas, but the plain old French press black coffee was excellent.
We tasted the French toast ($5), the Croque Madam (brioche bread with ham, gruyere cheese, and two poached eggs, $7.50), and the Croque John Paul (brioche bread with bacon, gruyere cheese, two poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce, $8.50). The latter two came with a small green salad, or you can add hash browns for $1.25. If you're minding your pocketbook, a simple egg/tofu and toast will run you $2.50, a toasted bagel with butter or margarine just $2.
The restaurant is decorated in cheerful colors, with minty green walls, rainbow-striped tables, and bar, and an installation of tapestry art (including an homage to Vanilla Ice and another to E.T.). On Sunday, a DJ was spinning low-key tunes that never quite raised over the din of diners tapping forks to plates and kids chitchatting.
Modern Times may be trying to offer typical diner breakfast fare, but there's one element (happily) missing: The food doesn't taste like a heart attack. Our plates had plenty of greens, the Hollandaise was light, hash browns didn't taste the least bit greasy, and the French toast was crisp, almost candied, not sogged down with sugary syrup. I can't remember the last time I finished a breakfast so rich without a serious case of gut rot.
On first look, it appears Modern Times Cafe is set to do well in the neighborhood. So far it appears bustling, staff seem pressed to keep up but were consistently cheerful, and overall the restaurant had a feel-good vibe. We'll be excited to see how it fares in the months to come.
Modern Times Cafe
3200 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis